My Fall 2015 Goal

An old colleague of mine recently passed away from cancer.

I was so taken aback when I learned he passed away. I was certain he’d be fine after treatment. I never realized how bad it was.

I’ve been so overwhelmed with emotion. Rage, mostly. I’m so angry that cancer still steals lives. After finding out, I cried for days. I haven’t seen him since I worked for the Jets, but always kept in touch through his weekly “Go Jets!” emails during football season and his fun Facebook posts…and of course, I could always expect an e-card on my birthday. But still, I felt like I couldn’t stop crying. I feel so much sadness for his family and wonderful wife, because even though I didn’t see them much over the past few years, they seemed to be more in love than just about anyone I’ve ever known. And their smiles were always wide, their positivity always abundant. It hurts my heart.

I can’t take it.

For the previous few weeks, I had been researching charities to run the NYC Marathon with. I’ve raised money for LLS 3x in the past and debated supporting someone different this time around. There are so many options. I wanted to support a friend who works for a charity. I also thought about supporting a charity that gives kids access to running and fitness opportunities, because these types of opportunities changed my life and I believe it’s so important to keep kids active. I wanted to support an animal-based charity because animals need a voice too. But this was a huge push to once again raise money for cancer research, so I began researching all the cancer-related non-profits. Where the money goes is so important to me, so I studied their websites like crazy, looking up margins and ratings and info on all the different programs.

And then, I was watching Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies on PBS. Crying my eyes out for the majority of the program, once again. When Dr. Brian Druker, an LLS-supported researcher/oncologist appeared on the screen, I gasped. I’m not sure why it surprised me, because his contributions are definitely well known in the cancer research realm. He might not be your typical household name, but working at LLS it was. He’s a big deal. I was reminded how knowledgeable LLS is at funding the right research projects and how much good has come from funded research. Case in point: An oral chemotherapy called “Gleevec” was driven by Dr. Druker and took the survival rate of a certain type of leukemia from 50% to 90%.  If you’re interested in his work, here’s a video:

And I know these cures that start with blood cancers are helping patients with other cancers, too. Research fascinates me. And if you need a little hope, it helps knowing there’s promise.

This one with Dr. June (another incredible oncologist) is the most ground-breaking of all. If you don’t watch the other video, watch this one at least.

(And here Emily is today.)

emily whitehead

Age 9

SO, there I was again, wondering what the F I’m doing sitting around doing nothing but complaining about it. I know people hate getting asked for money. Some people love to hate on charity runners. Others think it’s not worth it. Once, a guy told me that if a treatment saved one life, it wasn’t worth the investment. He only wanted to donate if I could tell him it would save X number of lives and compared it to malaria nets, a tangible item that you can count and know how many people are benefitting. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if we can even attempt to save ONE LIFE, I say let’s do it. You never know whose life that might be. And I want my family, even if it’s 50 years from now, to have a better shot at living cancer-free.

I guess you understand what I’m getting it. My goal is to run the NYC Marathon this year (and go SUB-4 AHHHH) and I’m officially signed up. I also want to make another tiny little dent in the fight against cancer, so I’ll be fundraising yet again with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. If (WHEN!) I reach my first goal of $3,500, I will have personally raised over $20,000 in total (since 2008) for LLS, thanks to extremely generous family, friends, and strangers. THANK YOU. I hope you know how humbled and grateful I am for your past support of this very important mission.

Post-Ironman (struggling!) with a list of all my donors.

Post-Ironman (struggling!) with a list of all my amazing donors.

I still struggle with the “asking people for money” part of fundraising at times, but I remind myself that the money isn’t for me and it’s going to help someone who needs it. And if I’m running this much and this far, I need to use it for something positive. And hey, I don’t expect anyone’s support. Anyone can just say “no, leave me alone”. I won’t be mad. I totally get it.

Regardless, I’ll be on Staten Island on November 1st ready to race my heart out. (OH AND PS I’LL BE AN OLD MARRIED LADY BY THEN! CA-RAZY.) I hope that by the end of that day, at least one person is inspired or hopeful or just smiles because they know there’s a whole bunch of people out there trying to help.

nyc marathon finish line

As Phil Dunphy said…”and that’s why I run.”

…and if you want to join me in the race, I won’t be mad. Just saying.

I’m a writer currently living in New Jersey and blogging about running, fitness, wellness, and motivation. I want every reader to laugh and feel empowered, balanced, and motivated! Subscribe by email to get 1-2 newsletters a month with post updates, my favorite articles, running playlists and more!


  1. April 7, 2015 / 12:53 pm

    I don’t understand how ANYone can hate on charity runners! You’re doing a great thing (and I’ve done it in the past and felt such a satisfaction while running!) I know you can do it!!

    • April 7, 2015 / 8:16 pm

      I don’t either, but I remember once reading an article in the NY Times (I think…) and all the comments were SO negative and demeaning! It was so upsetting.

      Thanks for believing it me! :)

  2. April 7, 2015 / 1:24 pm

    Oh #IronKara, bringing me the waterworks first thing this AM! You are amazing and your passion and drive are inspirational. I’m SO excited for you to run the NYCM (charity runners rock, btw) and I KNOW you will crush sub-4! I’ll be there cheering you on like crazy!!!

    • April 7, 2015 / 8:18 pm

      Haha sorry to make you cry! Thank you for always being so supportive and always making me feel loved :) You’re amazing yourself!! I don’t know if I can go sub-anything without you running in front of me, but I’ll try my hardest!!

  3. April 7, 2015 / 4:09 pm

    What a GREAT post!!! I teared up reading it!

    I’m so proud of you for deciding to run the race for such a great charity and for making such a kick-ass goal!

    I would LOVE to run with you! I am hoping to run a sub 4 too! We should be virtual running buddies :)

    See you in November!!

    • April 7, 2015 / 8:34 pm

      Thank you my friend! And thank you again for the donation :) I’m SO excited to meet you in November – and be virtual running buddies until then!

  4. Beth
    April 7, 2015 / 5:37 pm

    Thanks for making me cry right into my salad. This is a beautiful post. You know how closely this hits home to me and even if ONE person, one mother, one father, one sister or brother or wife or husband or child or friend can be saved because of you then it will be 100% worth it. The sub-4 while doing it will be the icing on the cake. GAH! I’m always so proud to call you my friend. This world is a better place because you are in it. I know I’m beyond words grateful to have you in my life.

    • April 7, 2015 / 8:37 pm

      I’m sorry to ruin your salad! (And now you are making ME cry!) I will literally be thinking of you and your mom every single run; I truly mean it. I’m honored to have you as MY friend. Because of you and your endless positivity and encouragement, I feel empowered to do things like this. Love you!

  5. April 7, 2015 / 7:48 pm

    That is so great that you are fundraising again!! Good for you!! The marathon will be that much more awesome!! I am sure you will raise your minimum and your sub 4!! Good luck!

    • April 7, 2015 / 8:37 pm

      Eeek! Thank you, I hope so!! :)

  6. April 11, 2015 / 4:48 pm

    Incredible. I’m running with Team in Training as well for the NYC Marathon. I couldn’t agree more that if you save 1 life it still makes it worth it, that person might be a mother, father, sister, brother, whatever it is, there’s people out there that care about them.

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